April 2015 – Admittedly, America’s culture wars can get pretty heated. Increasingly, however, leftist groups are labeling Christian organizations such as AFA “hate groups” in order to delegitimize and shame them out of the public debate over homosexual marriage.
One of the secularist organizations most successful with this strategy is the Southern Poverty Law Center. Founded in 1971 by Alabama lawyer Morris Dees and based in Montgomery, the group has successfully traded on its earlier years as an organization committed to combating racial segregation.
While SPLC insists that it continues to maintain a watchful gaze for racial injustice across the American landscape, it has expanded its mission over the years. SPLC now also scours the land looking for something else: people and groups who refuse to embrace homosexuality from a secular progressive perspective.
Such folks are labeled “hate groups” and tossed into SPLC’s “extremist files.” Both AFA and Family Research Council were stained with these epithets in 2010.
So what constitutes hate for SPLC? Mark Potok, director of publications and information for SPLC, told CNN that his organization does not stick the “hate” label on groups solely because of biblical beliefs about homosexuality – such as saying that homosexuality is a sin.
Rather, the label comes because groups like AFA engage “in straight-up defamation of a very large group of people.” They “spend their days and nights attacking gay people.” In another interview, Potok said Christian hate groups were “consciously promoting falsehoods and demonizing an entire group of people. It’s fact-free demonization.”
How do such groups “demonize gay people”? According to SPLC’s website, organizations such as AFA do so by teaching things like: there are environmental and relational causes for homosexuality, rather than a genetic or biological cause; the homosexual lifestyle can lead to negative physical and mental health consequences; it is better for children to have both a mother and father in the home, rather than two same-gender parents; and there is evidence that some homosexuals can leave the lifestyle.
These “myths,” SPLC shrilly asserts, “almost certainly contribute to hate crime violence directed at the LGBT community.”
Of course, AFA does not believe such statements are myths – and it continues to present plenty of evidence to prove their veracity. But Potok and his ilk are not satisfied with an “agree to disagree” end to the discussion. If you don’t agree with SPLC, you’re a hater.
From hype to hypocrisy
It’s understandable that the group claims the hate label isn’t applied simply for the biblical beliefs of Christians. That would be bigotry on its face, and SPLC loves to keep up the appearance of tolerance on its part.
Still, it’s a ruse. For example, while AFA often puts forward sociological evidence to declare that kids are better off with their biological mother and father – rather than two moms or two dads – it’s clear that this belief is rooted in a Christian worldview. (See P. 7.) To call the sociological argument “hate” is to call a biblical view of marriage and family hate as well.
It is SPLC’s hypocrisy that is perhaps most appalling, for when liberals say harsh and hateful things about Christianity, they don’t wind up in SPLC’s “extremist files.”
The late Christopher Hitchens, for example, a brilliant polemicist who made his mark attacking Christianity and other religions, was notorious for his overheated rhetoric denouncing believers and their faith. In various public forums, Hitchens insisted that Christianity was a “sinister” religion and “explicitly totalitarian;” it “injects poison into our system;” it is overtly “sado-masochistic;” and that Christian clergy “lie to children for a living.”
And yet, lo and behold, Hitchens never made it onto SPLC’s list of extremists or haters. Neither do any of the other leftist demagogues who have created a cottage industry defaming the Christian faith.
Why not? Why is it hateful to say children deserve both a mom and a dad but not hateful to call Christianity “sinister” and to call pastors and priests liars?
The only obvious answer for this blatant double standard is that, at its core, the SPLC’s hate list is about attacking a belief system grounded in the Judeo-Christian worldview.
Of course, there’s no law against having a double standard. And AFA understands that SPLC’s obvious hatred for Christianity is well within the expectations of those involved in public discourse. Debates in the culture wars are not for the squeamish. If Potok and other SPLC officials hear hate when Christians declare what the Bible says, that’s their opinion and they’re entitled to it.
There’s only one problem: The media regularly echoes the SPLC designation of “hate group” when journalists mention groups such as AFA.
Moreover, for much of the first six years of the Obama administration, even government agencies like the Justice Department and Department of Defense were using SPLC’s hate group list to castigate AFA and FRC by name in meetings with staffers. It was only the threat of legal action that stopped this practice by the federal government.
This is a tremendous power for a clearly leftist organization to wield, especially given its open hostility toward Christian groups that won’t fall in line with SPLC’s secularist agenda.
In a world with a growing list of enemies of the faith, the Southern Poverty Law Center is now one of the